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Child Maintenance and Domestic Abuse

View profile for Franca Webb
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Prior to the Child Support Agency (CSA) and now the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) issues of child maintenance were dealt with via the court.  The main issue in respect of child maintenance was collection of child maintenance which was both costly and slow.

Following the death of Emma Day, a CMS customer trying to claim child maintenance from her former partner who had repeatedly threatened and eventually did kill her, a review was commissioned by the DWP.

New rules come into force allowing survivors of domestic abuse the choice to allow the child maintenance service (CMS) to collect and make payments on their behalf without the consent of an abusive ex-partner.  The idea of the new measures is to help prevent perpetrators from using child maintenance as a form of ongoing financial abusive and control and will mean survivors will not have to have contact with their ex-partner if there is evidence of domestic abuse. 

The CMS will also have new powers to report suspected cases of financial coercion to the Crown Prosecution Service to help bring abusers to justice.

One main criticism is that there appears to be no firm commitment to exempt survivors of abuse from the ongoing charges levied by using the Collect and Pay system operated by the CMS.  Currently paying parents who use the Collect and Pay service must pay a collection fee of 20% of the child maintenance payment on top of the regular child maintenance; whereas receiving parents have 4% deducted from their regular child maintenance payment. It is difficult to reconcile why the survivor should be financially worse off because their ex is an abuser.

Biscoes can help with divorce, separation and children matters that include domestic abuse issues.  Senior Associate Franca Webb is a specialist in domestic abuse cases.

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